Women Who Inspire
Suzanne Dunning of Tosha Yoga
This installation of Women Who Inspire is a special one. Suzanne is one of my dearest friends- she is a woman filled with integrity, heart & passion to help people feel and live better. About 4 years ago she had the idea to open her own yoga studio, which is in a creamery building that she beautifully renovated (with the help and support of the owners of the building, her family, and her partner). Her tales of renovation, overcoming red tape, permits, and bringing her studio Tosha to life can be found here.
When and how did you first learn about your field of work? How did you know it was what you wanted to do?
I first learned about yoga from my mom who had done it in the 60’s in New York. When I was about twelve I discovered that at the back of a book on massage we had was a section on yoga. I would go in my room, light candles, and try to put my body in the bizarre shapes. I distinctly remember coming down from shoulderstand for the first time and feeling a flood of aliveness. I loved it.
I started going to yoga classes when I was about 16 at a gym. I remember being dismayed at how hard it was, but I always felt so good after that I kept going. It felt like an escape from my torturous teenage reality and I wanted to share it with my friends so I asked the PE teacher if instead of lifting weights a few of us could go outside and do yoga. He let us, and I kept teaching from there.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to take their yoga practice or yoga business to the next level?
Keep it simple. The simpler the business the more you can focus on what matters- yoga and people.
Also, starting my studio was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It cost three times as much as I estimated and took five times as long. I had to push through massive opposition as well as trusted friends telling me that perhaps all the opposition was a sign from the universe that I wasn’t on the right path. YOU and only you know if you’re in on the right path.
What are some of the lessons you’ve learned in your field of work?
Running a yoga studio is teaching me how to ignore my mind- to not trust everything I think, and how to navigate problems with a bit more diplomacy and trust. Initially, every problem that came along, I would assume the most catastrophic outcome. Eventually I started to get used to the fact that the problems will never stop coming, and there’s usually a way through them even if you can’t see it at the time.
What it is your creative process? Where do you draw inspiration from?
Honestly, I have no idea how creativity works but I have the utmost respect for it. I know that walking helps me. Before I teach, I go walk in the redwoods and the rhythm always coalesces my thoughts in a more intelligent way than would have happened if I were sitting in front of my computer. Also, I always keep learning- from everyone I can- poets, artists, yogis, kids, whoever.
Why are organic and ethically made products important to you?
They are important because I believe we have a responsibility to earth to live in harmony with her.
What is your favorite La Lune Apothecary product and why? I love the douglas fir hydrosol- it’s almost as uplifting and inspiring as actually walking in the forest. I also love the cleansing grains. Part of my morning ritual is abhyanga- oil massage. After I oil massage I rub the cleansing grains into a paste and massage it into my skin. It removes the excess oil beautifully and leaves my skin breathing and alive.
Can you share what project(s) you are currently working on?I’m currently creating a yoga teacher-training program that weaves in the divine feminine as well as deep ecology. Joanna Macy is one of my greatest teachers and her work fuses beautifully with yoga.
What are you looking forward to in 2017?
I don’t look forward- I’m too yogic for that. (Just kidding….)
How can people connect with you/take a class at Tosha Yoga?
1251 9th Street, Arcata, CA 95521 (upstairs in the creamery building)